Devolution Revisited: Towards a more Effective Devolutionary Policy

Research team

Shelton Wanasinghe




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Discussions on the devolution of responsibility and authority within the country’s polity have been at theforefront of the Sri Lankan political discourse over the past quarter-century. Devolution had increasinglybeen perceived as a response to the continuing dysfunctional situation in the country that had its origin inethno-based dissatisfactions. These discussions, thus, contributed to a plenitude of expectations amongstthe citizenry. These expectations culminated in the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Con-stitution in 1987. This amendment was expected to yield an effectively functioning devolutionary politythat would both bring decision making in governance closer to the people as well as enable individualcommunities, in their local context, to self-administer the delivery of public goods and services that are ofdirect relevance to them.These expectations have, however, not been fulfilled – eighteen years down the line. The current percep-tion of the citizenry is that an expensive tier of governance, in the form of Provincial Councils, has beenadded to the structure of the country’s polity without commensurate benefits to the citizens.